The match in a tweet: India sweep the series! Watson’s century not enough as Raina hits a final-ball four to win another SCG thriller
The hero: Suresh Raina was left out of India’s squad for the Victoria Bitter ODI series, but he’s almost a lock in their XI for the upcoming World T20. The left-hander hit 41 in the opening match of the series and expertly steered India to victory after Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli had set the foundation for the run chase. Yuvraj Singh hit some vital blows in the final over, but it was Raina who was the calming influence throughout the late overs. The 29-year-old finished unbeaten on 49 from just 25 balls, hitting a boundary from the final ball to secure the win and the series sweep.
The support cast: You could almost pencil it in before the innings even began – Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli to power India’s batting performance in exhilarating fashion. The duo have punished Australia’s bowlers throughout this tour and they finished in style with a pair of half-centuries that gave the tourists a chance of a series clean-sweep. Rohit has failed to score more than 30 just once from eight innings on this tour, including two centuries, while Kohli’s record is even more impressive, scoring a half-century or better in seven of his eight innings this month. This pair are absolute run machines and you’d be brave to think they’d do anything but continue that streak during the World T20 in March and April.
The consolation effort I: Less than a month since it appeared Shane Watson’s international career could be over, the allrounder produced a history-making performance that has emphasised his status as a key figure in Australia’s push for a maiden T20 title later this year. Watson hit 10 fours and six sixes in a superb unbeaten 124 from just 71 balls, the second-highest score in the history of T20 international cricket. Captaining the side in the absence of Aaron Finch (injured) as well as Steve Smith and David Warner (in New Zealand), Watson was at the crease for all 20 overs of Australia’s innings as he joined Finch in an exclusive group of two Australians to reach three figures in T20 internationals. He was also brilliant with the ball, taking the wicket of Shikhar Dhawan and conceding just five runs from the penultimate over of the innings to keep his side in it.
The consolation effort II: Nathan Lyon and Adam Zampa have both been given the nod in white-ball cricket in recent weeks, but Australia’s incumbent T20 spinner Cameron Boyce has done little wrong in 20-over cricket this summer. The leg-spinner was dropped from Queensland’s Sheffield Shield team at the start of the season, but performed strongly for the Hobart Hurricanes in the KFC Big Bash League and was Australia’s best bowler at the SCG tonight. The 26-year-old performed with impressive control and nice variations and – most importantly – picked up the key wickets of Rohit and Kohli to put himself in prime position to be Australia’s frontline spinner at the World T20.
The ‘ouch’ moment: We’re all for “using your head” in the field, but this guy took it a little too literally. Watch below
The captain: Missing the game with a hamstring injury, regular captain Aaron Finch needed to tweet just four little words to allay any fears about his participation in the upcoming World T20. Wide World of Sports commentator Mark Taylor had speculated that the Victorian would miss the tournament due to the hamstring injury he picked up on Friday night, but Finch was quick to dismiss that theory.
The save: Take a bow, Hardik Pandya. Spectacular fielding efforts on the boundary rope are nothing out of the ordinary in the modern game, but performances like this are worth a second look, especially in tight matches when every run counts. Sensational.